On the road up to Cómpeta from Algarrobo, you could almost be forgiven for driving straight past Sayalonga without realising it was there. The road takes you through the very outskirts of the village, but what lies beneath, tucked away to the left of the A7206, is another Axarquían (have I just coined that word??!) gem. The journey isn’t quite as dizzying as the one right up to Cómpeta and the road definitely gets windier north of Sayalonga, so if you’re not a good traveller but want to take in some of the area, then this is the village for you! It also makes a great pit stop on the way to or from Cómpeta.
One of the first places to visit, which is in fact visible from the A7206, is the round cemetery. Built in the 19th Century, the Sayalonga cemetery is one of Malaga province’s most compact and iconic. It is still unknown why the cemetery was built in this shape, but it is typical of much of the whitewashed architecture in the area. On close inspection you will see that some of the tombstones say ‘R.I.P’ instead of D.E.P (Descansa En Paz which means Rest in Peace in Spanish). RIP also means Requiescat In Pace (RIP in Latin) which some people choose instead of D.E.P.Out and About in Sayalonga with The Directory magazine
As you make your way further down into the village you will spot a series of tiles on the walls which explain (in Spanish) the history and geography of the area, from Moorish times through to the Reconquista and more recently.
Sayalonga claims to have the Axarquía’s narrowest street – Callejon de la Alcuza -which measures just 56 centimetres wide at its narrowest point and is off the central Calle Cristo. A little further on, heading towards the town hall building, look out for the water fountain with the frog perched on the tap!
Out and About in Sayalonga with The Directory magazineAnother fountain worth mentioning is ‘Fuente del Cid’ where legend has it El Cid actually drank from when he passed through the village….presumably on his way to or from Granada…another interesting fact about the fountain is that the oil which comes from the olive trees near the fountain is used in the candles that are burned on Día de Nuestra Señora del Rosario on 7th October every year.
Sayalonga is home to the Museo Morisco, which boasts a fascinating series of rooms containing books, work by the artists Adolfo Córdoba, examples of Moorish culture, Archaelogical remains found in the village and even has a room dedicated to the níspero, including winning paintings of the annual competition associated with Día del Níspero (see below). The museum is open every day from 10am until 2pm and entrance is free.
Of course, Sayalonga has the usual share of fiestas and ferias, but the most important is undoubtedly Día del Níspero . The event always takes place on the first Sunday in May and this year it falls on the 6th. Agriculture, gastronomy and folklore combine to pay homage to the small, orange fruit which is grown locally. There is local and flamenco dancing and music, as well as the opportunity to sample the níspero. The festival has been celebrated in Sayalonga for over 80 years and is recognised by the Junta de Andalucía as a fiesta of national tourist interest. Sayalonga’s Feria takes place in mid-July and this year will be around 13th, 14th and 15th . Corumbela, which belongs to Sayalonga administratively, celebrates its feria at the end of June.Out and About in Sayalonga with The Directory magazine
As we discovered when we were there, market day is Friday and a number of stalls can be found on Plaza Constitución, in front of the town hall. There is also a variety of restaurants and bars dotted around the spacious plaza. Casa Mari, on the main road, is busy at weekends and serves up good, homemade Spanish food and tapas, as I discovered on my way back from the art walk in Cómpeta over the Easter weekend.
There is a large foreign population, especially Brits, Dutch, Germans, French and Scandinavians, who live mainly in the ‘campo’ surrounding Sayalonga and Corumbela. They have formed the group ‘Amigos de Sayalonga’ and are planning to hold a residents’ day in August. For further information about the association visit: www.amigos-de-sayalonga.ch. The information is in Spanish, English and German.
There are plenty of hiking routes around Sayalonga and Corumbela and a booklet with details can be found in the town hall. Information on the routes is given in Spanish, English, German and French.
For further information on Sayalonga visit: www.sayalonga.es
Written by Jennie Rhodes
Photographs taken by Rob Bell Photography